This was going to be too easy.

Backing away from the junction box, I clipped the taps into my custom console. The air was dry, sharp notes of ozone from the humming transformers lining the vault wall. A faded sign attached to each had “HIGH VOLTAGE” with stylized lightning bolts. I was deep in the infrastructure of the building, having gained access from an old railway tunnel that ran parallel to the foundation.

They’re going to be sorry they ever messed with me.

ReLive Incorporated was the sole licensor of revival technologies, a major breakthrough that allowed recently deceased persons and their families a second chance at life. It was hideously expensive, foremost to retain the luxury status of the brand, and second to pad the warchest for legal defense. You wouldn’t believe what some people would do to get access to tech like that. The running joke was a pun on the corporate name – implying you were relieved you didn’t have to pay the bill.

If you weren’t rich enough or well connected, someone they could use to promote their services and add to the glowing roster of celebrities and hangers-on who exclaimed the virtues of the company on every possible medium, you had to make a bargain. They called it “LifeLoans”. Most terms were divided according to the sponsored coverage from their business partners. You’d go down to their offices, sit in long queues and finally be admitted to speak with a LifeLoan Officer.

The Officer would run down your available assets, and if you were under-capitalized but employable, suggested terms that involved spending most of your waking hours working for ReLive directly or one of their partners. The idea was not only to pay off the initial cost, but bank enough credit to extend your own life as well. It made sense, in a perverse kind of way, the company would get a workforce that never took a dirtnap, and they would retain their collective experience, to boot.

Thing is, if you weren’t willing to make a deal – you stayed dead.

And that is what happened to my Dad. He worked all his life, helping to support me through the economy collapse and the subsequent banking implosion. He took any work at all, just to get by and put some food on the table. I’d sit there, poking around my home-made computer while he laid on the couch, tired as hell and watching TV.

It really shattered my world when he was diagnosed with cancer. That was treatable too, but we didn’t have the money. Barely enough to keep the roof over our heads, never mind the insane premiums needed to get the smart drugs that would clean out his system. I thought about getting the money illegally, but that was nearly impossible since banking had been absorbed by the global blockchain, an automatic ledger of worldwide transactions. Nobody carried cash anymore, unless they were a history buff or something.

I remember when I went to ReLive, Inc. Tall grey spire in the center of town, ringed by aesthetically pleasing planters designed to stop tanks and improvised car bombs. Going through the curtain wall glass doors, into the first security gauntlet, then finally into the sterile waiting room. My number being called, and sitting in front of a thin man with wire-rimmed glasses, tut-tutting about how I had nearly no “workable capital”. My employment prospects were dismal as well, since I wasn’t able to afford any certificate courses.

I left with a heavy heart, collecting my things from the security station and shuffling outside. That’s when the car bomb went off. Someone had taken an old van and piled it high inside with primed tanks, sent it rolling into the planters. I had just exited, so I ducked behind a concrete bench as the fireball licked the building opposite, the shockwave shattering the glass behind me. A few scrapes and a bloody nose, I kept walking. Then, once I got the idea, I ran. All the way home.

It was simple. I was going to get inside, get into the systems that ran the revival pods – and make a few changes. It was just a few lines of code, really. The hardest part was getting inserted into their encrypted backbone via fiber. I used a side-channel attack on one of their consoles, an industrial control system that had been installed by an external vendor and left forgotten, like a stray thread.

Once I was in, I went to the main ReLive system, running the primary algorithm in parallel on thousands of processors, but slaved to the primary instance – part of a sanity check that I would now exploit.

Nobody was coming back. Not now, and not in the future.

All it took was a well placed random number generator, pushing a stream of garbage to the newly fabbed cerebral cortex. You might get the body, but the mind would be long gone.

If I couldn’t have my Pa, you rich bastards weren’t getting shit.